Here’s How Email Color Can Impact Subscriber Behavior

When used effectively, color theory can be one of the most powerful tools an email marketer can work with. After all, the right color choice can help convey the value of your emails.

Color can instantly set the mood, evoke emotion and spark a psychological reaction that gets people to take action. In fact, 90 percent of a subscriber’s first impression is based on color or visual cues alone.

90 percent of a subscriber's first impression is based on color or visual cues alone. Click To Tweet

Let’s take a look at how colors can have a major impact on how your email performance so you can make your campaigns work harder for you.

How color can get the click

According to Kissmetrics, color helps increase brand recognition by 80 percent – and that makes it an incredibly important piece in creating your brand identity. Plus, having your own brand colors can help distinguish you from your competitors.

Color helps increase brand recognition by 80 percent. Click To Tweet

Research even shows that there is a connection between the use of color and how it affects customer perception of a brand. Think of your favorite brand for a second. What color do you associate with them?

Now take a look at the chart below. Does it match up with your perception of the brand?

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Now that you’ve considered how color affects your own perceptions of your favorite brands, it’s time to ask yourself how you can leverage this information in your email strategy.

Let’s take a look at each of the different colors listed above, identify why it elicits certain emotions and feelings and how you can best incorporate it into your future email sends.

Blue

Blue is often used to represent feelings that are cool and calm. That’s because blue has mood-boosting properties that signal the body to produce chemicals that are calming and promotes a feeling of positivity.

Light blue can be a refreshing splash of color in your emails. Warby Parker’s use of the lighter shade helps to emphasize the vibe they’re going for:

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By contrast, dark blue is a classic choice for brands who want to emphasize luxury, without the formality of black. Take note of how Everlane used it in their email below:

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Pro Tip: Studies have shown that blue appeals to a wide range of people. Try testing a blue call-to-action (CTA) button or link color.

Pink

Pink tones are youthful, fun and exciting. It’s a great choice for emphasizing femininity or something sweet. (The color actually makes us crave sugar!)

Shades of pink are perfect for a welcome email, as they encourage friendliness. Take a look at this example from Lyft:

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Pro Tip: Try adding shades of pink to your welcome email for a friendly first impression.

Green

Green tones are reminiscent of natural elements, health and well-being. It’s a soothing choice, and promotes feelings of relaxation and harmony. It’s also the color that the human eye is most sensitive to and able to discern the most shades of.

Since it feels very fresh, green is a great color to use to promote a new product or feature. This example from Offscreen is a perfect example of one way to use a green color palette in your emails:

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Pro Tip: Launching a new product or feature? A splash of green can help emphasize it’s newness.

Orange

Orange represents warmth and energy. Fun and flamboyant, orange is often is used to represent positivity and optimism.

Another cool thing about orange? We naturally associate it with trust and safety. We love this example from Google:

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Pro Tip: Orange is a very bold color choice that can easily intimidate most marketers. Slowly ease your way into using orange by adding images featuring the sunny shade.

Yellow

Like orange, shades of yellow can symbolize positivity and optimism. In fact, it’s known as the happiest shade in the color spectrum.

Yellow is also known for activating memory, stimulating the mental processes and encouraging communication.

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Pro Tip: Yellow helps sparks memory. If you have something important that you want subscribers to remember, keep yellow in mind.

Black

Black is a classic color choice that never goes out of style. It’s often used to represent formality (think “black tie”).

It also implies weight. For example, people assume a black box weighs more than one that’s white. Harry’s did a great job of exemplifying this in one of their product emails:

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Pro Tip: If all black is too much for you, go for the no-fail combo of black on white.

White

White is cool, calm and serene. It’s a great choice for brands that want to feel modern and fresh.

This campaign from The Little White Company is a great example of using white in your emails:

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Pro Tip: Create a softer contrast between your background and text by choosing a mix of warm gray tones rather than pure black.

Purple

Purple is luxe and elegant. It’s that in-between shade that uplifts, while still maintaining a sense of calm. It’s also known to encourage creativity!

We love how Stuart Weitzman incorporated it’s signature purple shoebox in this abandoned cart email:

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Pro Tip: Purple is a great choice for a luxury brand to help convey the value of their products and services.

Red

Red tones represent passion, adrenaline and action. As a high-energy color, it can boost your energy levels and get the heart pumping. If you want your subscribers to feel the urgency of your message, red is a good color choice.

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Pro Tip: Too much red can be overwhelming. Try adding a splash of red to the header or footer of your emails.

Color best practices

Consistency is key when it comes to establishing brand trust and association. Always keep your brand top of mind and use color sparingly to create a seamless experience for your subscribers.

No matter your color choice, always keep it simple. A high amount of contrast between your background and text will always be user-friendly.

Here's How Email Color Can Impact Subscriber Behavior Click To Tweet

Start sending beautiful emails today

Ready to put these tips into action?

Start by implementing one (or more!) of these tips to get more engagement from your subscribers.

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6 Comments

  1. Tanja

    12/21/2016 4:30 am

    Yes, agree with that! We noticed some improvements on different color templates sent in mail. Of course it depends on business!

  2. Mauricio Telles

    12/21/2016 5:17 pm

    In my tests the one that gave me the most result was the color orange, then the red.

  3. Jim Shaffer

    12/22/2016 3:58 pm

    You say, “A high amount of contrast between your background and text will always be user-friendly.”

    Why are so many graphic designers suddenly using minimal contrast between the background and the text–similar to this text and background here? It’s hard to read. But it’s like a fad with these folks. Jim

  4. Dale Neff

    12/22/2016 9:44 pm

    Olivia, I loved the simple but informative way you put the colors out there. Funny I was just thinking of changing my colors and wasn’t really sure and Walla. Merry Christmas.

  5. Jason

    12/26/2016 11:19 am

    Great information Olivia. I started using a light blue for my website and have seen an increase in viewer retention. I’m going to start using this on my emails.

  6. Leslie

    12/28/2016 2:10 pm

    Very helpful. I’m in alternative healthcare. My logo is a monarch butterfly emerging from it’s chrysalis. Black background with vibrant green, orange, yellow and red. As it turns out, according to this article, all great colors for the message I want to send to my clients: health (green), vibrancy, youthful, trustworthy (orange, yellow, red), but serious in it’s mission. Thanks!